From Staff Reports
With a spot in the Class 4A state tournament on the line, Dalton High School’s golf team put together one of its best rounds this season on a course coach Hunter Johnston said was as demanding as any the Catamounts had played this year.
Led by Davis Kirk’s 5-over-par 77 and consistency in the rest of the lineup — the other three counting rounds were 78s — the Cats shot a 311 and finished first in the Class 4A sectional tournament Monday at Bull Creek Golf Course in Columbus.
Dalton advances to play in the state tournament on May 19 at Westlake Country Club in Martinez, near Augusta. They will be joined by Northwest Whitfield’s Ethan Hayes, who shot a 6-over-par 78 at Bull Creek and qualified as an individual.
State sectional tournaments were played at locations around Georgia on Monday, but Dalton was the only team from Murray or Whitfield counties to advance to state. Dalton’s girls had already automatically qualified for state by winning the Region 7-4A tournament in April.
“What I am really proud of is that this course has so many doglegs and it is very tight and is just a very difficult course if you aren’t used to it,” said Johnston, whose team played a practice round on the course a week ago. “This course made your mental approach to the game crucial. We knew it was tight and knew if your shot wasn’t accurate that you weren’t going to score very well. The guys came through today.”
In addition to Kirk, Dalton got scoring rounds in the six-play, four-score format from Allen Behr, Jacob Brown and Addison Lambert. The team score was the second lowest this season for Dalton, which recorded a 306 at the Apple Mountain Invitational in Ellijay earlier this year. Landon Hicks (84) and Miller Lovingood (88) also played for the Cats.
“They really came through for themselves,” Johnston said of the team. “You don’t want to limp through the sectional tournament and go into state not playing your best. They came through strong today.”
Hayes advanced to state as one of the eight lowest-scoring individuals on a non-qualifying team. Hayes finished tied for first at the Region 7-4A tournament last month, but he lost in a three-hole playoff for medalist honors.
Region medalists advance straight to state, and Hayes advanced to sectionals as the low scorer on a non-qualifying team. He was fourth among that group of golfers at Bull Creek to earn a state spot.
n In the Class 2A girls sectional at The Lakes at Laura Walker State Park in Waycross, Murray County placed 12th out of 13 teams and failed to earn a trip to state.
The Lady Indians might be represented at state just the same.
Ten teams from the sectional advanced to the May 19 Class 2A state tournament at Pointe South Golf Course in Hephzibah, near Augusta, and Murray County’s score of 222 didn’t earn a bid.
However, the Lady Indians’ Amber Lewis and Rebekah Wildes finished third and fourth among individuals on non-qualifying teams.
Murray County coach Brett Dotson said five individuals were slated to advance out of the sectional, but there is a question as to whether they will be allowed to play because of their sectional scores.
Lewis shot a 110 and Wildes a 112, but in order to have advanced directly to state from region, female region medalists had to shoot below a 100. Dotson said there were no such qualifications by the Georgia High School Association in order to advance out of sectionals.
“They should get to go to state, but we will have to see,” Dotson said. “We’ll just have to wait until the final results are posted by the GHSA.”
n In the Class 3A girls sectional at Springhill Country Club in Tifton, North Murray’s girls missed out on a chance to play at state, but it took three extra playoff holes for region rival Sonoraville to knock the Lady Mountaineers out.
The good part of the day for North Murray was the play of Hali Sheram. The senior shot her career low with a 94 and will advance as a low-scoring individual on a non-qualifying team to the Class 3A state tournament on May 19 at Waynesboro Country Club.
North Murray shot a 313 and finished tied for the eighth and final spot among the teams advancing to state, but Sonoraville won on the third playoff hole.
North Murray senior Tillie Hughes shot a 108, while sophomore Emily Brogdon finished with her lowest round of the year at 111.
n At the Class 3A boys sectional at Sunset Country Club in Moultrie, 10 teams out of the 18 in the sectional advanced to state. Coahulla Creek finished just one stroke on the outside, shooting a 358 to take 11th.
Austin Cole shot an 84 to lead Coahulla Creek, and coach Brian Dodson said that because of a controversy involving a golfer who did not play in the sectional, Cole may have earned a chance to compete in the Class 3A state tournament on May 19 at Belle Meade Country Club in Thomson.
“It is about a 50-50 chance,” Dodson said. “There was a region medalist who didn’t play in sectionals, and he didn’t (automatically) earn a spot in state because he didn’t have a qualifying score. The GHSA will have to make a ruling.”
Also scoring for the Colts were Ian Conway (91), Walt Douglas (91) and David Manis (92).
• Columbus girls 8, Northwest 1: In the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs in a match played at Columbus State College, the Lady Bruins’ season came to an end at the hands of Columbus, a state runner-up each of the past two seasons.
The match was originally scheduled for this past Wednesday, but the threat of inclement weather led to its postponement.
Columbus outshot the Lady Bruins 28-4, and the only goal for Northwest (11-5) came on an unassisted score from senior Ashlee Huynh. Senior goalie Gracie Holmes made 17 saves for the Lady Bruins.
Other seniors on the team were Juliana Gomez, Courtney Pendergrass, Judith Tapia, Brenda Trejo, Yami Vaca and Maria Zumeta.
After having never qualified for state, the Lady Bruins reached the Class 4A tournament this year and last.
“With this senior group, they were part of the two most successful years of Lady Bruins soccer ever, so they have a lot to be proud of,” Northwest coach Melissa Torbett said. “Going forward, it will all depend on what we have coming up. Over half of the team is graduating, and we will have a lot to replace.”